Henri Lefebvre and Education: Space, history, theory (Hardback) book cover

Henri Lefebvre and Education

Space, history, theory

By Sue Middleton

© 2014 – Routledge

212 pages

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About the Book

During his lifetime Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) was renowned in France as a philosopher, sociologist and activist. Although he published more than 70 books, few were available in English until The Production of Space was translated in 1991. While this work - often associated with geography - has influenced educational theory’s ‘spatial turn,’ educationalists have yet to consider Lefebvre’s work more broadly.

This book engages in an educational reading of the selection of Lefebvre’s work that is available in English translation. After introducing Lefebvre’s life and works, the book experiments with his concepts and methods in a series of five ‘spatial histories’ of educational theories. In addition to The Production of Space, these studies develop themes from Lefebvre’s other translated works: Rhythmanalysis, The Explosion, the three volumes of Critique of Everyday Life and a range of his writings on cities, Marxism, technology and the bureaucratic state. In the course of these inquiries, Lefebvre’s own passionate interest in education is uncovered: his critiques of bureaucratised schooling and universities, the analytic concepts he devised to study educational phenomena, and his educational methods.

Throughout the book Middleton demonstrates how Lefebvre’s conceptual and methodological tools can enhance the understanding of the spatiotemporal location of educational philosophy and theory. Bridging disciplinary divides, it will be key reading for researchers and academics studying the philosophy, sociology and history of education, as well as those working in fields beyond education including geography, history, cultural studies and sociology.

Reviews

"The book is a fitting, and important, contribution from an educational historian with geographical roots. As a hybrid educationalist/ geographer myself, I valued Sue Middleton’s carefully assembled interplay between Lefebvre’s concepts and her own insightful spatial history of educational theories in Aotearoa. I learnt a great deal about Lefebvre and education in Aotearoa. Ideas travel, as the chapter on ‘New Education Fellowship’ showed so effectively, and I was recommending the book near and far before I had finished. In straddling the education and geography disciplines,

this book is a significant contribution to both, and offers an important guide to other disciplines engaging with critical geography and the spatial turn." - Karen Nairn,University of Otago, New Zealand Geographer

"this is a worthwhile book for education researchers in all our many fields. Middleton’s dexterous application of Lefebvre’s ideas shows the range of education inquiries they can be applied to. Throughout, I noticed myself wanting to read original (in translation) Lefebvre texts: specifically, I am resolved to lay my hands on The explosion (written in 1969 in response to the French university student uprisings in 1968) as background reading for a new course on ‘the idea of the university student’. I also found myself garnering helpful insights for a new research project, an ethnography

of academic work. In particular, I am intrigued by the methodology of rhythmanalysis, which encouraged me to trace Lefebvre’s commitment to noticing daily life as comprehensive (cited on page 175) – as an ‘intrication of time and space’ (p. 18) and an interplay between micro- and macro-processes. Opportunities to think anew about our work as teachers and researchers should always be welcome: in writing Henri Lefebvre and education, Sue Middleton offers

one such rich occasion." - Barbara M. Grant,The University of Auckland, Higher Education Research & Development

"The book in particular is a must read for both researchers and graduates on Master’s and doctoral degrees in educational studies, but also anyone interested in educational, as well as feminist, inquiry. However, with its accessible style and methodological richness, it is also an important text within social sciences more widely aswell as those interested in geography. Furthermore, this book would also be useful for third-year undergraduate students embarking on a dissertation in the social sciences. It would provide such students with an excellent example of howto analyse archival data within a theoretical framework." - Dave Cudworth, De Montfort University, Gender and Education

"The book has been carefully crafted by an experienced academic researcher and teacher. It draws on extensive and multi-sited archival and ethnographic research, thus bringing together two very interesting methodological approaches that are on the rise in social sciences today, but still in need of further exploration. The way the author analyses documents of life, such as letters within a sociological frame of reference is also unique and valuable in current debates in the social sciences. Sue Middleton is of course an internationally well known and widely published feminist academic in critical studies in education, particularly so in gender, historical, discourse and narrative analyses, while her specific background and scholarship in geography constitute a solid academic background for the production of this book within an overall interdisciplinary context. But although rigorous and theoretically rich, the book is fully accessible by a wider audience not necessarily versed in space theory of Lefebvre. I therefore think that apart from its contribution to the existing body of scholarship, the book can also become a strong recommended reading not only for researchers and graduate students on master and doctoral degrees, in educational studies and the social sciences more widely, but also for 3rd level undergraduate students in human and critical geography courses." - Maria Tamboukou, University of East London, WS Forum

"Henri Lefebvre and Education does make a significant contribution to the history of education with its transnational and theorised appraisals of a range of dispersed historical episodes. It provides, indeed, a shining example of a transnational agenda. Its understanding of historical context is also well grounded. Moreover, its deployment of a number of types of historical source material, including archival, literary and interview-based data, is measured, sensitive and generally impressive." - Gary McCulloch, UCL Institute of Education, The History of Education

Table of Contents

1. Overview: Henri Lefebvre and Education 2. Production of Space: Labouring Families in a New Colony, 1841-45 3. Everyday Life: ‘New Education’ Activists, 1928-48 4. Dwelling: Sylvia Ashton-Warner at Home and School, 1939-59 5. The Rhythmanalyst: Doctoral Students, 1968-1998 6. The Bureaucratic State: Teacher Educators, 1989 – 2013 7. Conclusion: Lefebvre as Educational Theorist

About the Author

Sue Middleton is Emeritus Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

About the Series

New Directions in the Philosophy of Education

This book series is devoted to the exploration of new directions in the philosophy of education. After the linguistic turn, the cultural turn, and the historical turn, where might we go? Does the future promise a digital turn with a greater return to connectionism, biology and biopolitics based on new understandings of system theory and knowledge ecologies? Does it foreshadow a genuinely alternative radical global turn based on a new openness and interconnectedness? Does it leave humanism behind or will it reengage with the question of the human in new and unprecedented ways? How should philosophy of education reflect new forces of globalization? How can it become less Anglo-centric and develop a greater sensitivity to other traditions, languages, and forms of thinking and writing, including those that are not routed in the canon of Western philosophy but in other traditions that share the ‘love of wisdom’ that characterizes the wide diversity within Western philosophy itself. Can this be done through a turn to intercultural philosophy? To indigenous forms of philosophy and philosophizing? Does it need a post-Wittgensteinian philosophy of education? A postpostmodern philosophy? Or should it perhaps leave the whole construction of 'post'-positions behind?

In addition to the question of the intellectual resources for the future of philosophy of education, what are the issues and concerns that philosophers of education should engage with? How should they position themselves? What is their specific contribution? What kind of intellectual and strategic alliances should they pursue? Should philosophy of education become more global, and if so, what would the shape of that be? Should it become more cosmopolitan or perhaps more decentred? Perhaps most importantly in the digital age, the time of the global knowledge economy that reprofiles education as privatized human capital and simultaneously in terms of an historic openness, is there a philosophy of education that grows out of education itself, out of the concerns for new forms of teaching, studying, learning and speaking that can provide comment on ethical and epistemological configurations of economics and politics of knowledge? Can and should this imply a reconnection with questions of democracy and justice?

This series comprises texts that explore, identify and articulate new directions in the philosophy of education. It aims to build bridges, both geographically and temporally: bridges across different traditions and practices and bridges towards a different future for philosophy of education.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDU000000
EDUCATION / General
EDU040000
EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects